Furniture Consignment Gallery Blog
Some thirty or so years ago, in the mid-1980s, the New York Times published a solemn little piece advising its millions of readers on the art of choosing furniture. Buyers, the newspaper huffed, are falling for style without due consideration of quality. Danger, the Times warned, was everywhere: visible glue drippings, uneven seams, broken stitching, creaks, cracks, and dozens of other sins.
“Ask questions!” the Times scolded its readers like a strict nanny. “Read tags! Look underneath! Poke about!” The Times even went so far as to suggest that a buyer hoist a sofa up into the air to see if it would wobble or sag in the middle.
Turns out, the Gray Lady – as the Times is affectionately known – was quite prescient. Furniture-makers were beginning to trim costs and boost profits by manufacturing in Asia in the early 1980s. As a result, the quality of the product was suffering.
The Times’ sober little story was an early, and necessary, warning of things to come. And, as quaint as it might have seemed at the time, the Times’ advice is all the more vital today as more and more consumers buy their furniture online.
Nowadays, the risk of buying poor quality furniture are even higher, thanks to the internet. Online furniture retailers offer stunning photos furniture that entice buyers by the millions. And point-and-click shopping make it so easy! You no longer need to spend your weekends bouncing on chairs and mattresses in furniture showrooms.
But, in real life, that furniture you see online may be uncomfortable and completely unsuitable to the daily wear-and-tear of family life. Yes, you may fall in love with a stylish sofa online. But once you’ve installed it in your living room that material may be as scratchy as Brillo. Yes, that dining table looks gorgeous in the photos. But in real life the legs are too wobbly for a holiday dinner party.
At FCG, we’re big believers in shopping the old-fashioned way. So stop by one of our three showrooms and sprawl out on the sofa you are thinking of buying. The New York Times had it right. When it comes to furniture, quality is something you need to feel, to touch, to hoist, and to hold against your cheek. At FCG, we promise you can do all these things – and still be happy with what you are bringing into your home.
With obvious pride, she swiped through a series of photos on her cell phone to show me the computer armoire she wanted to consign. Eight feet tall and gorgeously crafted in cherry, it was massive. If someone had ordered up a sarcophagus for Godzilla, this would have fit the bill.
Twenty years ago, her armoire was an elegant solution. Like a Swiss Army knife, it ingeniously unfolded into a work station with a hinged drop-down table and shelving for the printer. It was designed for an era in which computers were bulky things with large monitors and big blinking towers.
Today, thanks to wifi and portable devices, the armoire is as unnecessary as Grandma’s hi-fi console from the 1960s. I hated to break the news to her, but I suspected she already knew.
“I can’t sell your armoire,” I said. “It’s obsolete.”
She took a moment to digest this nugget of info, then recovered quickly. “Can I just give it to you?” she asked. “I’ve got to get it out of the house. We’re selling – and the buyers don’t want it!”
She left disappointed that she couldn’t unload the armoire on FCG, but the incident got me thinking. Technology has changed dramatically in the last decade or so. So have our work habits. But most of us still need a dedicated place to tackle tasks like paying the bills or homework.
Here are some things to consider when you’re designing your workspace:
Location: Technology allows us to work from almost anywhere. A kitchen island or a dining table can quickly morph into a workspace. It’s central and social. The downside: spaghetti sauce on the math worksheet or the bills. Maybe you do need a desk.
Surface space: How much space do you need to get work done? Do you prefer to spread out your paperwork, laptop, calculator and phone? Or do you prefer a tidy little spot tucked in a corner? Do you need a large desk for multiple computer screens? Would you prefer a warm and rustic wood surface or a sleek glass surface?
Storage: Do you need storage? Drawers are handy for the office supplies. What about files? If you do maintain files, you’ll likely want executive-style desk with file drawers or a credenza.
Style: Antique desks tug on some buyers’ hearts. They hint at stories of long-ago endeavors such as novels written or music composed. But contemporary desks with wood tops and chrome legs are also popular now. Their clean and simple lines seem to suggest clear thinking.
You can find most any type of desk to meet your needs at FCG. Well, that is you’ll find almost anything, with one exception: a giant computer armoire.
Here in New England, we have a proud tradition of furniture craftsmanship that dates back to our colonial days. The roster of manufacturers has thinned out, due to recession and a flood of cheap stuff from Asia. Still, there are quality furniture-makers quietly thriving from Maine to Connecticut.
We got a call from one of them a couple of weeks ago with an intriguing question: Would FCG be interested in selling some of its samples and returns?
Our answer was a resounding yes!
While we agreed not to disclose the name of our new partner, we’ve been an admirer of this family-owned business and its cottage-style furniture for years. Some 95% of the furniture it offers is made in America, mostly in small workshops by skilled craftsmen. Customers order their custom-made pieces online, choosing style, wood, finish, color and size. The quality is superb.
Our new partner is renowned for its custom-made farmhouse tables from pedestals to trestles to turned-leg rectangular tables and more. This week, we got a truckload of more than 30 in different sizes, styles and colors. They are all awesome. We also got some bedroom pieces, bookcases and desks.
We’re proud to offer this furniture at our store in Plymouth. There’s no damage to or defect in any of these pieces. All are handmade of solid wood. Some are painted and the colors are stylish and vibrant.
So if you are looking for a new cottage-style dining table for your home, look no further than FCG in Plymouth. You won’t regret the trip!
The front door of the showroom swung open wide, letting in a blast of cold air and a man whose expression was just as icy. He stomped across the floor until he came to the front counter where he stopped and glared at me. Then, he reached into his pocket and yanked out a crumpled receipt.
Frowning, he made a half-hearted attempt to straighten it out then heaved a sigh of irritation and shoved it towards me. “I’m here to pick this up,” he said sourly. “My wife bought it.”
Now, I’m no Pollyanna, but sometimes I have to admit I enjoy the challenge of winning over the occasional grinch. That’s part of the fun of a retail business. Glancing down at the receipt, I looked up and grinned at the guy. “Oh man,” I said cheerfully, “you’re going to like this.”
He snorted. “I doubt it.”
Outside, his car was parked, with its engine running. I noticed he’d blocked the entrance, but I decided to let it go. After all, we were bonding here. I didn’t want to interrupt our special moment.
As he followed me through the showroom, I could see his eyes wandering from one piece to another. He was starting to get curious. “What is this stuff?” he demanded gruffly. “Consignment? What the heck does that mean?”
A dialogue! This relationship was blossoming before my eyes! I explained told him all about FCG, and how we provide quality gently used furniture at amazing bargains. “Your wife, by the way,” I confided in a low voice, “got a real steal.”
He raised his eyebrows a bit skeptically and glanced over at me. “You think so?”
“I do!” I said enthusiastically. By then, we were standing in front of a pair of upholstered swivel rocking chairs. They were a red barrel style and they were in great condition. Our consignor had paid about $1,000 – for each chair. His wife bought both for $799. I was really grinning now and he was nodding his head in approval.
So much progress! I’m so encouraged. We might have a future together!
Like two bros, we cemented our friendship by lifting heavy stuff and grunting. I helped him load the chairs in his truck and he set to work to buckling them down for the ride home. It was hard to say goodbye. “Thanks, man,” he said, roaring out of the parking lot.
I watched him disappear into traffic. He’d be back, I was sure of it. We’d have long walks through the showroom and long talks about the best way to hoist stuff into the back of his pickup. We’d move more furniture together. After all, his wife knows a great bargain when she sees it.
After the last customer of the day meandered out the door, it was time for the familiar ritual of closing up the store. Ron, our senior sales manager, was making the rounds that night, turning off the lights, fluffing the occasional pillow and straightening a picture that was askew on the wall.
In the gentle silence of the top floor, he took one last look around before going down the stairs when suddenly he caught a glimpse of two beady eyes glaring at him in the dark. “Oh, no!” Ron whispered to himself. “We’ve got a squirrel.”
Cute as they are burrowing for acorns in the backyard, a squirrel in the showroom is downright annoying. They’re happy enough outdoors during the spring and summer, but once the temperature drops they’re ingenious at finding a way to wriggle inside for warmth. This one apparently found a tiny porthole somewhere to gain entry to FCG.
Still, Ron is fearless when it comes to rustling wild creatures. He should have been born with chaps, a lasso and a ten-gallon hat. He grabbed a broom. Yee-haw, the rodeo was on.
This squirrel wasn’t going to be cast out without a fight, though. Ron chased that critter around the fifth floor for fifteen minutes, darting around the furniture while blocking off escape routes with the broom. Finally, he managed to herd the squirrel into the stairwell, down five flights and out the side door. Both of them were gasping for breath after that chase.
Ron dropped the broom and collapsed into a leather recliner, sweat running in rivulets down his face but triumphant at his victory. After an 11-year career at FCG, he still reigns supreme as our top salesman. Who would have thought he’d have major skills as a critter rustler?
Our showrooms are warm and inviting all winter long, and we do our best to try to make everyone who comes through our doors feel welcome. Our hospitality doesn’t extend to members of the wild kingdom, though. Good thing we’ve got a cowboy on staff.
We landed at midnight, trading the warmth of Savannah for the bone-chilling cold of Boston. Diana and I had enjoyed a brief vacation – sans kids – to attend a wedding on Hilton Head Island with a few bonus days in Savannah. The bride was stunning, the groom was dashing, the shrimp gumbo was amazing. On the home front, grandparents were able to keep our boys alive while we partied like we were 22.
Tired as we were after our trip that night, I could see the determination in Diana’s eyes as we pulled into the driveway at 2 a.m. Come sunrise, she would be a woman on a mission. She was ready to round up the reindeer and all the other flotsam and jetsam of Christmas.
After a too-brief sleep, I awoke to the roar of the vacuum cleaner. Diana was already in a whirlwind of tree hauling and ornament packing. I desperately needed coffee to process the abrupt shift from soft sea breezes to the unrelenting hustle of the home front.
By the time the caffeine hit my system, Diana was outside, energetically tackling the holiday display. She looked like a bandolero with loops of extension cords wrapped around her. Under each arm was a plastic reindeer, their wide eyes frozen in an expression of alarm.
Honestly, I was overwhelmed just watching her. Christmas, 2018 was being carted off to storage. But part of me was relieved, too. Other than a few extra pounds around the waist and a beefy credit card balance, we were on the path to normalcy.
I left Diana to her mission and headed out the door to work. Welcome, 2019! We’re back and FCG is ready to rock.
Just after Christmas, Diana and I decided to slip away for a warm-weather escape to Savannah, Georgia. There, we decided to take a tour of the Owens-Thomas House, a beautifully restored Regency style mansion built in 1819.
Our tour meandered through the main house and the carriage house which had been used as slave quarters. Built by Richard Richardson, a wealthy merchant and bank president, the house had amenities extraordinary for that time. Among them was a primitive but ingenious system of drains. “The Owens-Thomas House had indoor plumbing before the White House,” our guide announced with pride.
Not surprisingly, Diana and I were fascinated by the home’s period furniture. In every room, there were beautiful examples of design and craftsmanship: solid wood chairs, game tables, writing desks, secretaries, magnificent mirrors and portraits.
As we rounded a corner, we noticed a stunning mahogany chest-on-chest with a missing piece of corner molding. Our eyes met knowingly. We were both thinking the exact same thing. The piece was even more beautiful because of its imperfection.
Its patina was strong and vibrant. Its carvings were elegant. This piece would be a treasure in any home. But we knew that most people would be distressed by the missing corner piece. Were this chest to land in one of our stores, it would sit for months waiting for a buyer.
These days, consumers unwittingly purchase new furniture that has fatal flaws beneath a seemingly perfect exterior. The market is flooded with pieces with flimsy joints, fake wood and plastic parts that will not stand the test of time. Meanwhile, well-crafted older furniture is being cast off because of a few dents or scratches.
At FCG, we have pieces similar to those in the Owens-Thomas House. We believe that period furniture has an warmth and strength that can be found only in things crafted with care and preserved with love. Sometimes, old drawers and creaky doors are worth treasuring.
In our fragile world, we need these heirlooms. They anchor us. What if those who inherited the Owens-Thomas house had decided they were tired of the old mahogany furniture? Imagine the tragedy of filling the house with IKEA.
Absurd? Yes, but our society is doing this every day. We’re shedding family history in favor of assembly-line imports. Very few people are taking the time to think this through. What are we losing when we shed these old treasures?
The next time you visit FCG, walk a little slower through our showroom. Ponder the history of the period furniture. Don’t overlook a piece because of a scuffed corner, a faded finish or a surface scratch. Instead, embrace the flaws. Smell the aged wood. Imagine its history. Like our competitors, our showrooms offer lots of shiny and new pieces. But the old gems are worth preserving, too.
With the kids off to school and the house quiet, Diana and I finally had the time to sit down at our kitchen table for an important conference call earlier this week. Right in the middle of the conversation, her cell phone jangled with an incoming call. Diana glanced at the caller ID, smiled, then mouthed to me, “Not urgent – I’ll call back later.”
She turned off the ringer and set the phone to buzz. But the caller was nothing if not persistent. Every few minutes for the next half-hour, Diana’s cell phone buzzed, paused, and buzzed again. Then, apparently determined not to be thwarted, the caller switched to the house phone.
It was her mother.
My mother-in-law is not woman to be put off when she has news to impart. Texting isn’t her thing. She requires direct interaction. Apparently, she had information so vital that it required an all-points bulletin that morning. Finally, unable to reach Diana, she decided to call our son, a sophomore, in High School.
Moments after our phone stopped ringing up popped a text from Collin, whose History class was interrupted for this mission-critical update.
“Nani called to tell me to tell you that she got Dad a bottle of bourbon for Christmas,” his text said. “?”
To some, that scenario may seem absurd. But Diana is from Kentucky, the bourbon capital of the world. To Kentuckians, bourbon – and especially this particular brand and year of bourbon – is a matter of utmost urgency. So it is completely understandable that my mother-in-law could not risk a delay in getting this momentous message to her daughter: “The bourbon is coming, the bourbon is coming!”
‘Tis the season. Don’t believe the song blasting across the radio airwaves “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Who doesn’t love this gift-giving frenzy? Best of all is the knowledge that you’ve found just the right thing for someone important to you. When you’ve found it, you just want to share the joy.
Even our kids are beginning to realize it’s even more fun to give than to receive. “Hey, Mom,” Robbie announced brightly at dinner the other night. “I bet you can’t guess what I got you for Christmas!” He’s dying to tell her, I know. Keeping that secret till Dec. 25 will be almost impossible for a ten-year-old who is just discovering the joy of finding a perfect present for Mom. I’m betting he’ll spill it soon.
We see a lot of that eager anticipation in our stores in these last few days before Christmas. Yesterday, we had a newlywed couple looking over bedroom sets at our store in Hanover. “I love this one so so much!” I overheard the young woman say shyly to her husband. “But I think it’s a little more than our budget will allow.”
He looked at me and grinned. I suspect he’ll be back to FCG on his own this weekend to buy a present that will thrill her this Christmas. Merry Christmas to all our customers and may you experience the joy of giving to and receiving from those you love.
She was frozen like a statue, staring into space, next to an enormous satinwood dining table in the showroom. While it isn’t uncommon to encounter distracted shoppers during the holidays, she seemed to be in an especially deep state of shock.
“May I help you?” I asked a bit nervously, and she flinched.
“Christmas dinner!” she gasped. “Thirteen people! My new daughter-in-law just told me she invited her father and his new girlfriend to join our family and, well, I don’t know how I’ll seat everyone! Besides, I didn’t like Scrooge or his little sweet tart when I met him at the wedding. Her dress was too tight. Seriously!”
‘Tis the season for a meltdown. You may have Christmas planned down to the last popcorn ball, but there’s always going to be a last-minute snafu to tangle up your tinsel. You have issues? Here at FCG, we can help. In fact, our showroom elves have been hard at work this week coming up with solutions for almost every variation of holiday trauma.
Consider the woman whose foyer rug was destroyed in an unfortunate accident involving a tipsy neighbor, a tray of cheesy nachos and a bottle of red wine at her annual holiday cocktail party.
New rugs can cost as much as $100 per square foot. On FCG’s website, she found an extensive selection of rugs – from classic to modern – ranging in price from $15 to $35 per square foot. (FCG’s rugs are clean and pet- and stain-free.) When she raced into the showroom to pick up her rug, we had it rolled up and ready to go. She barreled off happily, vowing to switch from Cab to Chardonnay in 2019.
But wait, there’s myrrh …
One customer found out her brother-in-law was planning to visit at Christmas, but he was too broke to stay in a hotel this year after losing a fortune on bitcoin. With her guest room already booked, she thought there would be no room at the inn – until she found a sleeper sofa perfect for the basement rec room at FCG.
And while her brother-in-law had lost his shirt in the market, she fretted, he hadn’t lost his entitled taste for luxury. Which is why she was so grateful to discover the newer sleep sofas are engineered for comfort and durability.
And what about the woman who had to find a seat at her family table for Scrooge? Well, there’s always opportunity in adversity. A new and larger table might fit the bill. When I last peeked into the showroom, she was mulling the purchase of that gorgeous satinwood table, a Baker Furniture Collector’s Edition with three leaves that would comfortably seat all her guests. New, the table was $28,000. Our price: $8,999.
Now that’s how to have a merry little Christmas – even if you have to invite Scrooge!